Moving to New Hampshire! I've never been within 1000 miles of NH. Tell me about it?

I love it here in NH. I escaped from MA a year or so after I met my (now) Mrs. Butler. So many things are so much easier in NH then they were in MA. Other than your drivers license, it’s rare to have to visit the DMV, though you’ll probably spend some time there the first time you register a car, or transfer your license.

*1 - No income tax as long as you work, **and **live in NH. If you work in MA or ME (I think the Portsmouth Naval Base pays out of NH, which has caused much conflict for Naval personnel, if I remember the few articles I’ve read on it.
*2 - Salt water permits are coming… federal regulations are driving this change nationwide. It’s starting out with a “registration program,” but will move to a standard license type. Details on the NH Fish & Game site here.
Are the highways cleared well when it snows?
I find very little problem with the snow plowing in the Southern NH area. Local pockets, and residential streets get the short end of the stick, and will be done last.

**We’re looking at buying a house about 35 miles from where my husband will be working (up in Milton). It will be freeway all the way, but is it insane to try to drive that in the winter? **

Rt 16 doesn’t go to 1 lane each way for quite a while. I think Milton is either in the 2 lane parts, or traffic will generally be light enough to not make a difference. Except on Friday afternoon heading North, or Sunday AM heading south during the summer. It’s a highway speed road, so shouldn’t be too much of an impact.
**Air conditioning. Do houses usually have it up there, or do the summers not get hot enough to bother? **
This year was very cool, and we used our AC a half a dozen times or so. A window unit in our bedroom, and another in the main living space worked for us. Newest houses often have central AC, older ones probably won’t. There are new AC units though, that require very little additional work to run the coolant lines.

And basements–I’ve noticed they don’t seem particularly common, although the are in (also cold) Wisconsin. Is that because of a high water table issue, or what?
I can’t say though I’ve ever seen a house without one. It was a big shock to me to find that houses in NC didn’t have them, when we were investigating a move to the NC area. I couldn’t live without one, as I need the storage, and my Cape Cod style home doesn’t have an attic.

Food: How’s the restaurant scene?
Anything is available, though may require a small drive.

I have a 35 mile commute from Sandown NH to Merrimack NH each day. 1/2 highway, 1/2 secondary roads. 45 minutes, and I think this is just right. I get some decompression time in each direction. YMMV for a multitude of reasons. Personally, I think Milton would be a great choice. Close to the lake area, and lots of outdoor opportunities in the area, and still has good access to the more urban areas of Concord, Manchester, Portsmouth, Portland, and Boston.

Some fireworks are legal. I’ve not found a place selling bottle rockets, or firecrackers out the front door. They sell things that make sparks, and whistles, but nothing that goes “bang.”

Property taxes -
Higher rates in therms of rate per thousand, but the house values are much lower, so come in very much in line (or in many cases lower) than those in MA.

I LOVE NH! (was born in Exeter, grew up in Hampton Beach.)

The great thing about Portsmouth is that you are minutes away from Maine - Kittery is the shopping mecca around there, including Stonewall Kitchen (drool) and The Trading Post. (if you are outdoorsy - you have to at least stop in there - it’s a building with a huge Arrow hitting a target, kind of hard not to see).

And you are also minute from some of the Maine beaches, whose sands are softer than Hampton Beach where I grew up, and is a little more couple friendly (HB tended to be a pick-up/cruise location for teens).

There is also a fantastic playhouse where some great actors come to perform.

And in York Beach there is this restaurant (was? og I hope it’s still there) called Fox’s - it’s a little hard to find, but if you ask nice they will let you eat upstairs - and if you get a good table you can look out one window in to the harbor where you might see scuba divers emptying the lobster traps or the other direction, where you can see the Light House and the ocean.

When I lived in Manchester, NH I would often head to York on a Friday night right after work and we would eat at Fox’s (lobsters and their fresh wild maine blueberry pie) and then take a stroll on the beach. The fog would usually be rolling in at that time, so you and your partner would be engulfed in your own little world - with the tide rolling in across your ankles and the salty smell of the ocean tickling your nose.

There would always be 1 or 2 people with dogs out walking - sometimes they will have frisbees or balls so you get to watch the dogs play catch. People just nod and kinda leave you to yourselves.

Soooooo peaceful.

I hope you enjoy it :slight_smile: As for Portsmouth itself - I have cousins on the Fire Department and city council there - so I’m happy to ask them any questions if you want.

Hurray!! It’s still there!! Fox’s

The commute to Portsmouth will be a long one. I probably live closer to Portsmouth than you would, and it takes me at least 45 minutes to get there. And it’s not a freeway because it’s not free. You’d have to pay tolls twice (at Rochester and Dover) on the Spaulding Turnpike. The cash toll is 75 cents at each booth in each direction. You can save some of that expense with EZ Pass, but I don’t know how much. There are often bad backups at the booths on Friday afternoons northbound and Sunday afternoons southbound, especially during the summer. There are routes that bypass the Turnpike, but they’d make the trip closer to an hour.

There is currently construction on the Turnpike around Rochester. Luckily the delays haven’t been bad yet, but the speed limit is reduced. They’re widening the Turnpike from one lane in each direction to two lanes between Exit 12 (the interchange with Route 125 South) and Exit 16 (Route 202 East). That will eventually allow you to complete most of your commute on four-lane highway, but not until 2012.

Where exactly will your husband be stationed? I ask because the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is actually in Kittery, Maine. i know Maine makes sure to collect income tax from civilian employees who work there, even if they live in tax-free NH. I don’t know how military personnel are treated by Maine tax authorities. This year Maine’s top rate is a steep 8.5%. The top rate was scheduled to fall to a slightly less steep 6.5% for most people next month, but that plan is on hold pending a referendum.

If you decide to buy a house in Maine instead, you’ll probably get slightly more house for the money, or be able to get a house that’s closer. Property taxes are generally lower in Maine but still high by national standards.

Rochester is about 5 miles from Milton. Most likely that’s where you’ll be doing of your weekly shopping. There’s a WalMart Super-center and Home Depot on Rte. 11; a Lowes, Staples, and Kohls on Rte. 202; a small mall (the Lilac Mall) with a Kmart, Waldenbooks, J.C. Penny, liquor store, etc. on Rte. 125. The best prices on groceries are generally a the Market Basket on Rte. 125 or WalMart. There are also two Hannaford grocery stores in town with slightly higher prices. The third major regional chain is Shaw’s, whose nearest stores are in Dover NH and Sanford ME.

Unless you like casual family-style dining, I think you’ll be generally disappointed with the restaurant choices in Milton and Rochester. There are good restaurants in Portsmouth and in some of the small towns along the coast in NH and ME. Portland, Maine, and Boston aren’t terribly far away.

New Hampshire is one of the best states in the east for outdoor recreation. Between the seacoast, the lakes, and the mountains, there’s practically nothing you can’t do outside.

When planning travel, the airports in Manchester (Southwest and several legacy carriers) and Portland (AirTran, JetBlue, and several legacy carriers) are each about an hour and a quarter away. Boston’s Logan airport is about an hour and a half. There’s bus (C&J line) service from Dover to Logan and South Station in Boston. There’s Amtrak service from Dover to North Station in Boston.

Milton is the home of the New Hampshire Farm Museum. Pretty interesting, if you like that kind of thing.

Hi Renee! Weirdly, I just moved to the area too - I work in Portsmouth and bought a house in Berwick, Maine. Thanks for starting this thread - I haven’t really settled in and it’s got good info. What I found odd when house hunting here is that a lot of the houses don’t have garages (and I looked at close to 30). With as much snow as they allegedly get here (it was in the 60’s today so I’m skeptical) I just don’t get that. The last thing I want to do is dig my car out in the morning.

Is your husband going to be working at Pease or someplace else? So far I love the area. I haven’t run into any New England reserve here either - everyone has been super-friendly.

I went through USAA to get my mortgage and got a great rate. They also have a Buyer’s Advantage program where they recommend a realtor for you - mine was absolutely fabulous and I can give you her name if you like. But if you go through the program, you get cash back when you purchase a house. The amount depends on the price of your house - I got back $1,400! PM me if you want more info.

All the rest of you, we should have a Dopefest when Renee gets here.

30 percent, as long as it’s an NHDOT-issued one. Out of state transponders get hit the full rate.

And at the Hampton tolls on I-95. On the bright side, you’ll be able to drive through them at speed witih an EZ Pass when they’re done.

Oh, about the beaches - they’re nice enough, but the water north of Cape Cod is just too cold to stand for long even in late summer.

Oh yeah. And if you like motorcycles or NASCAR, NH can take care of you there, too. If not, just stay away from Loudon and Laconia when the show’s in town.

Important News, by the way – Memorial Bridge, on which Rout 1 runs between Portsmouth and Kittery, has just re-opened, and is still closed to trucks over 3 tons. The bridge has been deteriorating, and it’s been temporarily repaired with steel plates. This will last, they say, for one to three years, but more serious repairs are needed.
There are other ways around (like US Interstate 95), but this will be a major pain in the neck.

my husband was duty stationed at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for 14 months, any questions let me know and Ill pass them along to him.

he loved the area, and I loved visiting him up there. There is a killer BBQ place in Portsmouth downtown that I adore, and any time we visit up there for shopping in Kittery we eat there.

Oh my gosh, guys, I am SO EXCITED! We’ve been on Okinawa for 4 years, and while it’s a pretty little island with nice beaches, going to the beach is just about the only thing to do, and it costs a fortune to leave the island, so we rarely do. Okinawa is 60 miles long, and we live in the middle of it. It still takes 3 hours of driving to get to the top, and then there is nothing to do once you get there. Plus all the clothes are size 0 and smaller–shopping mecca is sounding really good right now. And restaurants! And bars that serve more than one kind of beer! Oh my god. Heaven.

The information about the tax stuff is very useful. We knew about the high real estate taxes, but were looking at properties in Maine, and it sounds like the resident/work thing might nix that idea. My husband will be working at Pease Air Force Base, which is at the Pease airport, if I understand correctly.

We’ll definitely be moving somewhere rural. We just aren’t city folk, and miss having acreage very, very much. We have 3 dogs and like our privacy, but we’ll keep it as close to the city as possible (which we realize might not be very close). We’ve done the long commute thing before (42 miles on state roads a few years ago) and it’s a bit of a pain, but worth it for us.

Isn’t that strange? We noticed it, too. And sometimes I’ll see a one car detached garage. If you’re going to go to the trouble to build a detached garage, why not 2 car? It wouldn’t cost much more. And we love USAA (aren’t they the best bank?)–our last mortgage was through them, and we’ll try again, although we might get a house in too much of a fixer-upper condition for them to finance.

Speaking of which, does anyone know how much of a pain building permits are in rural NH? We’re looking at several houses with inadequate/nonexistent garage space, and if we buy one we’ll want to build a garage.
Thank you all so much for posting here. This has been extremely helpful.

My understanding as a Vermonter is that garages count toward your property tax, which can border on breathtakingly outrageous in the best of times. That’s why they tend to be less popular than you’d think.

Oh, interesting.

Yes, the thing I find interesting is that you may not have a garage which you would use all year round - but many people WILL have a pool - which you can only use for 3-4 months at best.

What’s even weirder about garages up here, is that among people who have them, most do not park their cars in them! I don’t understand the point of having a garage filled with crap when it’s just as easy to have a shed to fill with crap. I can point out two houses in my neighborhood that have garages used for cars, not storage.
As for pools, you see a lot of above ground pools, but the inground pools are few and far between. Above ground pools are usually a lot cheaper than garages, so I don’t find it too surprising.

:nodding: It definitely does in Massachusetts.

I work on Pease too! Not for the military although I do work for the federal government. I live in Maine and haven’t had any trouble with the resident/work thing. I wanted an older house (the one I bought was built in 1750) on some acreage and Maine had more to offer. I got a 2000+ sq.ft. place on 3.2 acres (with a garage!) for what I would have paid for a much smaller house in NH on a tinier lot. It takes me about 35 minutes to get in from Berwick to Pease and that’s with dropping the dog off at daycare. Traffic is usually a bit heavier on the way home and the General Sullivan Bridge tends to get backed up - especially on Fridays. I highly recommend looking in Maine for a place. There were a lot of fixer-uppers available but I didn’t want to do any work on mine as I’m not very handy…

Another thing that took me by surprise was that almost all heating is via oil and a giant tank in your basement. I also have a propane tank for the stove and hot water heater. I’m from the mid-west originally and everything there is natural gas. A lot of towns don’t have trash pick-up either - you have to take it to the “transfer station” (i.e. dump) for which you have to get a permit. But there are people who will pick your trash up for about $20-30 a month. Definitely worth it to me!

If you want the name of my broker, let me know. She was great and VERY patient. I was looking via long distance like you (I was in Kabul) and she set up an entire website of potential homes just for me.

I just wanted to chime in and agree with the other posters. Their comments about snow, A/C, basements, etc. are all on target.

Portsmouth is a great little city with wonderful restaurants, theatre, etc. You will love it!

But garages are meant as workshops! :slight_smile:

I have been in NH a number of times and like it a lot. It’s a lot like Eastern Ontario. Well, except for:

  • No sales tax
  • Guns
  • No helmet law
  • Cheap booze
  • Chowder
  • The accent

Apart from that though…

It’s now Pease Air National Guard Base, home of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, NH Air National Guard, which is based at what is now a civilian field called Portsmouth International Airport (no airline service, sorry). The industrial park occupying most of the former Pease AFB is now called Pease International Tradeport.

You won’t have to go far, really.

If you don’t have a basement, where else can you put your stuff but in the garage, huh?

Also, New England summers are short. We enjoy them to the fullest during the short window when we can.

I’m finding it odd that you say houses don’t have garages. Ranch style homes don’t tend to have them, but newer Capes, Colonials, and the like certainly do… usually around the side, under the “bonus room”, and you walk into the basement.

At least in the area 35 miles SE from Portsmouth.

And you’re really seeing homes without basements? Even the oldest ones have at least a stone foundation walled basement. Usually NOT finished though.